TABLE 6 Opinions on Population and Family Planning, Lima, circa 1966
Percent who agree that:
Rapid population increase slows national progress. 65 51
Steps should be taken to regulate births in Peru. 79 63
To control the number of children is to contribute
to the well-being of the family. 91 79
The state should teach people to limit the number of children. 81 75
The state should reward large families. 72 46
Each new child arrives with its own loaf of bread. 42 34
The Catholic woman should not use contraceptives. 54 45
Many children are needed to assure one's old age. 35 12
Number of cases (1,000) (100)
In the first set of questions the leaders are clearly more conservative than the followers, but the reverse is true in the second set. This situation may mean that the former sample, heavily weighted with uneducated respondents, has a greater tendency to agree with any statement (a kind of "yes set") than do the opinion leaders. Or it may mean that uneducated respondents are more genuinely in favor of birth control because they are experiencing the problems of large families; they also want state subsidy of large families because they need the money; and they hold traditional Catholic beliefs without recognizing the contradiction. At least, however, it seems likely that the leaders and followers are not far apart on the basic issues. That half the elite believe the state should reward large families and half believe that population growth does not slow Peruvian progress shows a substantial conservative inclination with respect to population growth and fertility, despite a relatively liberal orientation toward birth control.
In Mexico, a sample of 240 national leaders in political, religious, and professional occupations was found to be quite conservative on the question of population growth (13). When asked the loaded question, "What means should be taken in view of the population growth for the good of Mexico?" only 42 percent were willing to volunteer that the growth should be limited. Not only did over a quarter say "no means," but 28 percent said that population growth should be stimulated. Indeed, less than half believe Mexico'sgroup of 100 opinion leaders. Selected comparisons between the leaders and the eeneral noDiilation are piven in Table 6 (19.Yn and women from law, government, the mili-lanning and more in favor of national growth include two Latin American, two African, and two Asian states (Table 3).